Tuesday, February 22, 2011

TRE3S - Chikita Violenta


Chikita Violenta
Arts & Crafts Records.

SCQ Rating: 73%

Over a two-week period in January, Chikita Violenta rode a wave of hype and backlash that most bands, given our presently overloaded musical landscape, would need a few months to fully traverse. Keep in mind, these guys aren’t some Myspace - sorry, Bandcamp – discovery; they’re the latest signing on world-class indie label Arts & Crafts, they’re produced by the one and only Dave Newfeld, and their sound is shaped from 90s bands like Pavement, Superchunk and Built To Spill. So naturally this quartet must be Mexico’s answer to Broken Social Scene – case closed.

Granted, the band’s new album, TRE3S, echoes profoundly of a lost Broken Social Scene outing; that’s an increasing likelihood when considering the band’s label, producer, and shortlist of influences. But to dismiss these songs as cloned, Mexico-made replications of BSS trademarks is to ignore what TRE3S offers in spades: another angle to Arts & Crafts’ addictive indie-rock sound. Hearing the harmonious noise that perforates ‘Roni’’s raw guitar may as well be confused for a siren’s call to bored hipsters everywhere, while a soaring chorus gives purpose to ‘The Pause’’s tripped-out noise-rock. If it sounds as though TRE3S’ production is packing the kinetic punch - and not the songwriting – you can blame Newfeld, who’s hardly resting on his laurels behind the boards. In most cases, Newfeld’s sharp ear for aggressively beautiful dissonance provides an ideal backdrop for Chikita Violenta’s earnest anthems but, occasionally, one can’t help but hear a Broken Social Scene record that could’ve been. ‘Tired’ bears a solid kinship to the Toronto collective’s gently strummed rockers whereas the ghost of Kevin Drew lurks over the chorus of ‘All I Need’s A Little More’.

Back to the real question, though: is Chikita Violenta a doppelganger band? Only in the sense that, like a thousand other worthwhile groups, they aren’t trailblazing so much as reiterating the need for ample gray areas that any debate over authenticity deserves.

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